Talon News - Good Local News

By Jessica Selph



October 6, 2017

Tragedy has struck once again and our nation mourns those lost in what has been dubbed the Las Vegas Massacre earlier this week. Another mindless act of brutality reaches headlines, making national and world news. Things are looking bleak down here, it seems there isn’t much good to report, unless you’re looking for it. I happen to be looking for it. One lost soul has done so much damage but I will tell you a story of thousands of beautiful souls that reached out to help in the wake of the devastation. It is no secret that 64-year old Stephen Paddock unleashed nearly ten minutes of open fire upon innocent revelers and ultimately himself, from his high-rise hotel hideout in the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino on the Las Vegas Strip. Terror unleashed during the final set of a music fest featuring Jason Aldean in concert on Sunday night. A Tuesday afternoon press release gave a chilling statement issued by Joseph Lombardo, Sheriff of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department. “It was pre-planned, extensively, and I’m pretty sure that he evaluated everything that he did in his actions, which is troublesome.” What is more troublesome is that this entirely unworthy human being will go down in history for executing the deadliest single man mass shooting in modern American history. Twenty-three high powered weapons, twelve stocked with the ability to fire hundreds of rounds per minute, and thousands of rounds of ammunition were found in Paddock’s suite after the attack. How does one get to that point in life? What was his motive? That’s the real question but we may never know the answers. It has been uncovered that Paddock grew up in a troubled environment, his father, Benjamin Paddock, was on the FBI’s most wanted list for multiple larcenies and even escape from prison.

I must find a glimmer of hope here. How can this work out for good? I happened upon a cellphone clip offering a higher vantage point of the concert. Rapid gunfire seemed to come from nowhere, likened to black cats in a barrel, causing everyone within earshot to run for cover. Those behind the camera instantly assess the situation. Gunfire is confirmed, and there is a brief moment of silence as the shooter reloads. Those who are able use the break to relocate, but many cannot. “Oh my God, they are not getting up” a voice laments. The camera then rests on a harrowing vision of life taken unnaturally and all too prematurely. Bodies are scattered amongst the grass like discarded waste. Preliminary numbers list 50 concert goers dead with nearly 500 injured but has risen to 59 dead with 527 injured. I continue my now tearful quest for a silver lining. Reports of selfless acts are refreshingly easy to find. “We just need to help them” another video caption reads, re-iterating the words of an escaped victim who had been flagged down and asked to use her truck as transport to the nearest hospital. “Just lay them all in the back” the unseen helper directs. The nearest hospital is the University Medical Center of Southern Nevada, the state’s only comprehensive trauma center, which was already inundated with patients from the shooting. There was simply not enough medical personnel to handle the influx and a mass casualty emergency was quickly declared. Thousands of properly trained, on-call medical staff members were called to duty yet still, those not in immediate risk of dying were turned away. It seems that anyone with prior training came forward to organize, classify and treat as best they could, the many innocent victims. Multiple injuries were sustained in the chaos, like pedestrians being hit by oncoming traffic during the mass exodus, yet videos and stories will prove order quickly established. “It was completely horrible but it was absolutely amazing to see all of those people come together,” an unknown witness comments. Another recounts, “There was just too many (injured) and it was overwhelming how much blood was everywhere.” Off-duty firefighters, police officers, ex-military, medics, doctors and nurses gave their time, expertise, and some their lives, as they ushered and assessed the injured. I’ve read stories of strangers protecting strangers, sister shielding brother, a mother throwing herself over her four-year old daughter, they were at her very first concert. One man died while saving his wife’s life, they were celebrating their first wedding anniversary. A truck stolen from a nearby lot allowed one man to rush nearly 30 people to the hospital, he returned it Monday morning. A photo of Jonathan Smith has gone viral, highlighting multiple bullet wounds sustained while directing others to safety. He took a shot to the neck, leaving a bullet he may have to live with for the rest of his life, yet he kept going because he “just had to help.” Tennessee publicist Karen Gale, who was attending the concert issued this statement regarding the aftermath: “If anything, I learned there is still humanity in this world, I saw it.” Today many patients remain in critical condition, the death toll continues to rise, and survivors continue to come forth with their stories.

We all mourn a little extra with Las Vegas as this could have been any one of us. Hiroshi Miyamura High School in Gallup and our recent AHS Freshmen homecoming opponent, lost their beloved secretary and former counselor during the massacre. Lisa Romero-Muniz was a 48-year old mother and grandmother. “She was not only an employee of our school district, but was an incredible loving and sincere friend, mentor and advocate for students in many of our schools,” District Superintendent Mike Hyatt stated in a news release on Monday. Lisa was with the Gallup-McKinley County Public School District for 14 years. More information can be found at hmh.gmcs.k12.nm.us/. Memorials of flowers, candles, stuffed animals and countless abandoned shoes of the victims now litter the Las Vegas Strip, commemorating a moment that has forever changed us as a nation.

In spite of these happenings, I still believe that the American spirit cannot and will not be broken. We will use this as a testimony to our goodness, our innate willingness to help when it’s needed. Let us each re-evaluate our lives, making sure to appreciate the things that really matter such as our loved ones. Experts agree (ahem) that it is imperative to focus on the positive and those that are helping when coping with tragedy. One final unnamed witness describes the event “like a mini-war zone, but we couldn’t fight back.” Those caught in this tragedy were not able to fight back unfortunately, but I believe that we can now. Not with violence, because doesn’t hate breed more hate? I say we fight back with love. Hug your neighbor or send an encouraging message to someone in distress. No matter what you do, execute it with love and a genuine intent for good, the ripple effect is sure to reach you and your loved ones very soon.


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